Qualifications & Appointments
BSc (Hons), Microbiology, Univ. Kent, 1986
PhD, Univ. Kent, 1991.
International Editor, Oryx
Board member, Trapnell Fund for Environmental Research in Africa, University of Oxford.
Board member, Bentham Moxon Trust
Management of the Seed Conservation Department and Millennium Seed Bank Partnership
The largest plant conservation project of its kind, RBG Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP) has collected and conserved seeds from 10% of the world’s wild plant species. By 2020 this will be increased to one in four (25%) of the world’s species, and the use of a wide range of plant diversity will be enabled through habitat restoration and livelihoods programmes. The partnership currently comprises >120 partner institutions in >50 countries worldwide. Collecting activities are mainly concentrated in arid lands, mountain habitats, islands and coastal ecosystems. Threatened, rare and economically important species are targeted as a priority. Key countries in the partnership are: South Africa, Madagascar, Kenya, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, USA, Australia and China. My work as Head of Department and Programme Leader means that I am responsible for managing and leading all aspects of the MSBP, including the delivery of our challenging seed intake and other targets. I am responsible for ca. 60 people at the seed bank and indirectly for hundreds of other people around the world who work on the programme.
Plant ecology and seed conservation in southern, central and eastern Africa.
I am a plant ecologist engaged in botanical inventory (plant collection and naming), ecological survey (vegetation and soil ground studies), vegetation mapping (photo-interpretation from aerial photography, satellite imagery), environmental impact assessment (studies carried out in Tanzania, Zambia and Madagascar), vegetation monitoring (long term studies set up in mopane and miombo woodland in Zambia), park planning (co-author of management plan for Zambia’s North Luangwa National Park), ecotourism (involvement in the ecotourism industry for >10 years) and generalist plant identification (southern, central and east Africa). More recently (2000-2005) concentrating on seed-collecting in southern Africa, and co-ordination and participation in seed-collecting activities for the Millennium Seed Bank Project in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi and Madagascar. Also published a field guide to the miombo woodlands of south-central Africa, a vegetation atlas for Madagascar and have carried out botanical survey work in Botswana, Madagascar and Zambia.
- Biodiversity Advice to Government
- CEPF Madagascar Vegetation Mapping - COMPLETED 2007
- Climate Change Science Policy
- Monitoring and Managing Biodiversity Loss in South-East Africa's Montane Ecosystems
(project completed 2009)
- Darwin Initiative Research Exercise on Community Tree Seeds (DIRECTS) in Africa
(project completed 2006)
- Madagascar Threatened Plants Project - COMPLETED
- MSB partnership in Southern Africa (Botswana, Madagascar, Malawi)
- Millennium Seed Bank China Programme
- MSBP Madagascar
- MSB Enhancement Project Part 1A: Species Targeting (Project completed 2008)
- Southern Madagascar Littoral Forest Tree Guide
- Project MGU - the Useful Plants Project
Selected Recent Publications
- Lowry, P.P. II & Smith, P.P. (2003). Closing the gulf between botanists and conservationists. Conservation Biology 17(4): 1175-1176.
- Smith, P.P. & Allen, Q. (2004). Field Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of the Miombo Woodlands. Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 176 pp.
Moat, J. & Smith, P.P. (2007) (eds). The vegetation atlas of Madagascar. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Smith, P.P. (2008) Ex situ conservation of wild species: services provided by botanic gardens. In: Crop Wild Relative Conservation and Use. Eds. N. Maxted, B.V. Ford-Lloyd, S.P. Kell, J.M. Iriondo, M.E. Dulloo & J. Turok. CABI International. pp. 407-412.
Smith, P.P., Dickie, J., Linington, S., Probert, R. & Way, M. (2011). Making the case for plant diversity. Seed Science Research 21, 1-4.
Selected Earlier Publications
- Smith, P.P. (1995). Common Trees, Shrubs and Grasses of the Luangwa Valley. (incl. 14 colour plates). Zennor, Cornwall: Trendrine Press. 46 pp.
- Smith, P.P. (1997). A preliminary checklist of the vascular flora of the North Luangwa National Park, Zambia. Kirkia 16: 205-245.
- Smith, P.P. (1998). A reconnaissance survey of the vegetation of the North Luangwa National Park, Zambia. Bothalia 28: 197-211.
- Smith, P.P. & Shah-Smith, D.A. (1999). An investigation into the relationship between physical damage and fungal infection in Colophospermum mopane. African Journal of Ecology 37: 27-37.
Smith, P.P. (2001). Ecological Survey of Zambia: the traverse records of C.G. Trapnell 1932-1942. 2 vols + 2 maps & memoir. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Bingham, M.G. & Smith, P.P. (2002). Zambia – Red Data List. In Golding, J.S. (ed) Southern African Plant Red Data List. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report Series No. 14. Pretoria, South Africa: National Botanical Institute. 135-156.
Smith, P.P. & Trapnell, C.G. (2002). Chipya in Zambia: a review. Kirkia 18: 16-34.